As Hurricane Ian approached Florida’s Gulf coast, the residents of Southshore Bay Community were anxious about the impact it would have on their newly-built homes. Their homes were part of a BlockEnergy community microgrid energy system, which promised to keep their homes powered during outages but had never been tested in a hurricane. Chris Hooper, BlockEnergy’s COO, was also anxious to see if the ultra-resilient system could truly perform as designed in such extreme weather conditions.
Making landfall with hurricane force winds, Ian left 2.2 million Floridians without power. However, the 37 homes powered by the BlockEnergy System remained fully functional. The system utilized in-neighborhood generation of electricity, storing energy in a network of batteries throughout the community. The local utility, Tampa Electric, maintained the rooftop-mounted solar panels, battery storage, and bidirectional tie to the main utility grid, delivering consistent, clean energy to all homeowners in the community.
Hooper was relieved to find that none of the microgrid equipment had been damaged by the hurricane. The BlockEnergy System had successfully provided 100% uptime to its customers, even when the grid-tie went down for three days. As a pilot project approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, the BlockEnergy System provides renewable and resilient power at no additional cost to the consumer.
The system’s “Always On” capability was put to the test during Hurricane Ian, and it passed with flying colors. Phil Zinck, Tampa Electric’s project manager for the BlockEnergy installation at Southshore, was impressed with the system’s performance. The BlockEnergy System provides a possible solution to the challenge of modernizing our electric utility grid, promising to help address the demands placed on local utilities to provide infrastructure for the growing adoption of electric vehicles while rapidly replacing fossil fuel generation with renewable resources. For now, it will continue to help Southshore Bay residents weather whatever storm comes next